Why trespass can be troubling, and not just for lost ramblers


A friend of mine once bought a beautiful, old chapel overlooking a stunning view. The chapel needed renovating which was part of the appeal. A grand design was put in place. But my friend’s rural and architectural dream was soon to stall. He realised he needed access onto his neighbour’s land to erect scaffolding to replace the roof… and the neighbour refused permission. Ignoring the neighbour and going ahead would be trespass. My friend had assumed that trespass was just something that lost ramblers did, but he was quick to learn that trespass has a much broader meaning.

So what is trespass?

Trespass to land occurs when someone intentionally enters or remains on another person’s property without the owner’s permission. This can include physical entry onto the land, such as walking into someone’s building yard, as well as activities that interfere with the owner’s use and enjoyment of their property, such as dumping waste or erecting structures without permission.

When someone commits trespass to land, they may be held liable for their actions. The potential liabilities can include:

  1. Damages: the property owner may be entitled to seek damages for any harm caused by the trespass, such as property damage or loss of use and enjoyment.
  2. Injunctions: in some cases, a court may issue an injunction to prevent the trespasser from continuing their unlawful activities on the property. An injunction is a court order that requires the trespasser to cease their actions immediately.

Understanding trespass to land is essential for both property owners and those who by accident, find themselves on someone else’s property. By respecting property boundaries and seeking legal advice when needed, individuals can help prevent and address trespassing issues while upholding property rights. And when access to land is required – for building or maintenance work – agreements can be made.

At AWB Charlesworth Solicitors we have extensive experience in trespass matters and have been frequently instructed by landowners to recover possession of land which is being trespassed on.

If you need legal advice on trespass or other related issues, contact Christopher Cooper, Director, and expert on property litigation on 01535 613680 or christopher.cooper@awbclaw.co.uk

23 November 2023

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External links of interest

Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994